There are thousands of homes available on a Houston multiple listing service (MLS). Every day, thousands more people scroll through in search of the perfect home for them. While there are many unique homes available in Houston, people usually just look by bed and bath number. Houston is a big city, so there are many of homes that fit even specific criteria. So unfortunately, it’s extremely likely that there are hundreds of homes just like yours trying to sell. So how do you make sure that your home stands out among the crowd? Aside from getting the best realtor you can find, the next big thing you’ll need is amazing photography.
Taking a few pictures of your home to put up sounds easy enough, right? But if you’ve tried selling a home before, or even looking for one, you’ll realize it quickly gets harder than it sounds. Every home on an MLS has great photos, and usually nice, professional ones. Many realtors will have their own photographers to help take pictures for you, or at least recommend it. While some smartphones nowadays have great quality cameras, your iPhone camera won’t cut it in comparison to a thousand dollar camera and hours of photoshoot.
Here at Wayne Murray, we have our own Houston multiple listing service. Not only do we cross-post to others, but we have been selling homes in Houston for years. We have an idea of what it takes to sell quick in this city. So whether or not you plan on getting professional or extra help for your home pictures, we have tips on what you can do to get the best pictures possible.
Set aside time for a photoshoot
No matter how big or small your home is, if it’s more than one room, you’ll want to set aside at least an hour to take photos. You’ll need the time to make sure lighting is good, redecorate anything you might need to, find the right angle, and to set up the camera. Depending on what camera you use, it could take extra time to take photos if you have to move it around often to get different rooms and angles.
Shoot at the right time
Having a photoshoot while the kids and pets are running around is probably not the right time to sit quietly with a camera for a few hours to guarantee a money shot. Make sure you’re taking photos at the right time of day that works for everyone in the house.
Additionally, you’ll also want to shoot your home during whatever time looks best. For indoor photos, typically the daytime works best as you’ll want to see as much natural light in the home as possible. Plenty of natural light always makes a home look bright, airy, and much more appealing.
For outdoor shots, you’ll actually want to avoid big bright hours. The sun can often make your photos look washed out. Depending on your environment, sunlight could make features such as grass and light-colored outdoor furniture look worse. For outdoors, we recommend dusk hours. The sunset looks amazing no matter where you are, so having it in the backdrop of your home will make it beautiful. It will also make any outdoor furniture stand out, as well as making your home look more high-class.
Of course, when you’re shooting outdoors or depending on sunlight, you don’t want rain to get in the way. In some cases, rain might help your shoot. For example, if you have a pretty reading nook, rain can make it look cozy. But for the most part, you’ll want to know the weather ahead of time so you can plan around it.
Get a tripod, or some other stabilizing equipment
Tripods can make the world of a difference, especially indoors. Natural light looks much sharper on a tripod, so it is almost always used for MLS photo shoots. If you don’t have a tripod, you can also use a small shelf, table, some books, or anything else besides your hands to keep the camera extra steady.
Use color to stand out
Having a little pop of color in each room makes your photos more eye catching. Unless you’re really going for a minimalist appeal, including even the simplest bright vase of flowers can make your home much more lively. You don’t need to repaint or get new furniture for this technique. Just fix small things, such as throw pillows, blankets, books, or any bright trinket you may have. Catching the eye is important to stand out on an MLS.
Emphasize space and natural light
Usually, the bigger the home, the better. Even if you think your home is gigantic and will look big no matter what, you’ll want to make sure your photos really prove that. If your home feels small, there are plenty of ways to readjust things in the room or the camera to make it look bigger.
Natural light also helps photos, and your home, look spectacular. Open windows, opt for curtains instead of blinds, or even open doors to let the light in. Professional lighting is good, but natural light is charming, real, and homey.
Know and emphasize the best feature of each room
Before your shoot, go through each room and choose what you want to emphasize. If your kitchen has a small bar but a large beautiful island, emphasize the island. Big pieces such as fireplaces, large windows, closets, or anything you think is unique and good should be seen in the picture.
Don’t worry if you can’t get a great feature exactly in the center of the frame. Look up different eye line techniques in photography. Often, the human eye doesn’t immediately look to the center. Use these age-old tips to your advantage!
Use a full-frame camera or wide-angle lens
You’ll want to take in as much of your home as possible in photos. Full-frame cameras are amazing as they can take in an entire normal sized room in one photo when positioned correctly. If you don’t have a full frame but have a camera that can let you change lenses, opt for a wide-angle lens. This will let your camera use illusions and techniques to take in as much as possible. As we said before, you’ll want to emphasize space, space, space!
Don’t under or over edit photos
Everyone who knows how to edit their photos does it for an MLS. It’s good to adjust things such as brightness and color. This way, in the case that your camera isn’t able to capture what you see in real life, you can fix later to make sure that it does.
Of course, there are people who edit MLS photos to make their homes look better online than in real life. Believe it or not, you’ll want to avoid doing this too often. Let’s say your photos are absolutely spectacular, but edited. If someone who sees your home on an MLS sees it in person and it doesn’t live up to your expectations, they won’t be interested anyway. In the same vein, they might also see you as dishonest if the difference is really drastic, and that can be another reason not to buy a home from. Use photo editing to your advantage, but don’t lie about what you home has in it. Whoever is really interested will eventually find out the truth either way.
Don’t be afraid to redecorate
Is your home cluttered? Do you have super personalized, bizarre furniture? A temporary redecorating might be a great option for you.
Some people might think that redecorating is another form of lying in an MLS photo. However– unless you’re going to be selling all the furniture in your home along with it, it’s perfectly normal to move things around. Whoever moves in after you is not likely to have things exactly the way you do. Moving things around, even having a different arrangement in different photos, can be great for showing how spacey and dynamic your home can be.
Decorate well, but also make sure to decorate in a way that doesn’t only appeal to you. Remember, you aren’t selling your home to yourself, and you want as many people as possible to be intrigued. If you aren’t sure if your giant elephant mural is going to look great, get second opinions, and move things accordingly.
Only post the best photos
Some people’s beliefs that they need to post every single photo is often what keeps them from success. As long as you show everything you need to, you don’t need anything extra. It’s okay not to include the bad shots, and it’s also okay to not have millions of extra photos of something you already have. There are already tons of photos on any Houston multiple listing service. Having more photos than necessary can look tacky, be exhausting to go through, or convince someone they don’t need to visit the open house. Be sure to photos that show everything, but not every tiny detail to where it’s overwhelming.
Make a video
If you’ve hired a photographer or rented a camera, be sure to use it as much as you can while you have it. If you find yourself with extra time during your schedules photoshoot, or really have a knack for filmmaking, having a video tour, even a 10 second one, is always a great idea. While photos are definitely more commonplace today than they were years ago, they are still an amazing way to stand out.
There are many different ways to do a video for an MLS. You can shoot multiple, seconds-long videos of the camera scanning through a room, you can do an artsy interpretation fo the best features in the house, or you can even guide a tour yourself like a museum guide. Whatever you think you can do that works will be great in video form.
If you’re not sure whether or not you need a video tour, check out other listings similar to yours and see if they have one. If many do, you don’t want to fall behind and not stand out by not having cool, extra information like that.
Every day it becomes harder to stand out on a Houston multiple listing service. As our city grows, so do demands and sales for homes. Whether you’re looking to sell your Houston home, or find one to buy, we can help you at Weichert Realtors, the Murray group.